Archaeology - Recent Discoveries
Moslems Destroy Temple Mount Artifacts
In November 1999, the Wakf or Islamic Trust that oversees the Temple Mount, began illegally excavating an area at the southern end of the compound. Workers dug up tons of earth and dumped the “rubble” in the Kidron Valley.
Their goal was twofold: To erase all evidence of the Biblical Temples by destroying artifacts and to build a new mosque in the underground area known as Solomon’s Stables, strengthening Islam’s claim to the disputed holy place.
The outcry of Israeli archaeologists and concerned citizens fell on deaf ears. Fearing a fresh eruption of Palestinian violence, Israel was unwilling to take a stand against the Wakf’s illegal activities. But archaeology professor Gabriel Barkay, of Bar Ilan University, and his former student, 32-year-old Zachi Zweig, could not stand idly by while priceless Temple relics were being systematically destroyed. They sought private funding to salvage the artifacts discarded as “rubble” by the Moslems.
After securing permits, they transferred 68 truckloads of earth to the western slopes of Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus. With a half a dozen professionals and as many volunteers, they started the painstaking process of sifting through the mountains of debris. With only 15 percent of the earth sifted, they’ve recovered a respectable cache of First and Second Temple artifacts, including pottery shards, a one-meter (yard) segment of a marble pillar, oil lamps, arrowheads, and more than 100 ancient coins. Second Temple coins bear inscriptions including, “For the Redemption of Zion” and “For the Freedom of Zion.”
Funding remains the key to continuing the work, but the archaeologists are determined to press on. “The very act of spending time and making the effort to examine debris just because it originates from the Temple Mount transmits a very powerful message…to the world…about the importance of the place,” said Barkay. Their time and effort are also preventing the Moslems from rewriting history.
Sacred Stones from the time of the Biblical Temples were discarded as rubble by Islamic authorities.